Better health for refugee women and children
Report from the SIGHT Award Event
On the 5th of November, students and faculty staff from Gothenburg and from other parts of Sweden joined us at the Aula hall in Gothenburg to discuss better health for refugee women and children and to present this year’s SIGHT award. An important consideration when planning this event was to have strong student participation and engagement from those passionate about challenges in global health. With this in mind, it was decided that the SIGHT award would be presented within the framework of an interactive panel discussion on bettering health for refugee women and children.
The panel discussion was preceded by a keynote speech by Birgitta Essén, a Professor in International Maternal and Reproductive Health at Uppsala University. In her speech, Birgitta highlighted opportunities to invest in human capital and health systems, whilst considering human rights, particularly for women and children refugees.
Having set the scene, Birgitta’s keynote speech was followed by a panel discussion consisting of herself, Professor Solvig Ekblad (Karolinska Institutet), Professor Bo Jacobsson (Sahlgrenska University Hospital), Katarina Carlzén (Director Partnership Skåne), and Professor Johan Von Schreeb (Karolinska Institutet). Sara Causevic, who is part of the SIGHT secretariat and a PhD student at Karolinska Institutet moderated the event. Sara lifted up several points with the panelists, namely whether evidence from research and front-line experience working with this population is used to inform policymakers. The panelists offered some examples of solutions that have been offered and the need for decision-makers to be actively involved in understanding, evaluating and replicating them. Examples from Sweden and from the global context were used by the panelists to emphasise both the challenges and the opportunities for bettering the health of refugee populations. It was fantastic to see such strong student engagement both in the questions for the panelists submitted during registration and also in the Q&A session following the panel discussion.
Following a very thought-provoking and inspirational panel discussion, it was a pleasure to listen to Stefan Einhorn’s words of wisdom told through a personal story about his father’s experiences during the German occupation of Poland during World War II. This set the scene for the presentation of the SIGHT award to Claudia Hanson (Karolinska Institutet) by Professor Max Petzold from the University of Gothenburg. It was very fitting that the SIGHT award for 2019 was awarded for Claudia’s research into improving maternal and newborn health in low resource settings. Claudia is a senior scientist and clinician who has dedicated her life to combating maternal and child mortality associated with childbirth in low- and middle-income countries and through her research has been able to make a concrete contribution to saving lives. In her acceptance speech, Claudia spoke from her heart about the personal challenges she has faced in her life and how she fought to overcome them. For her, being the awardee of the SIGHT award meant that her perseverance and commitment to her research had been recognised, which was personally very meaningful to her. She ended her speech with the following words – “Never give up!” Something we should all remember when we face challenges!
All in all, the event was a great success thanks to the many passionate speakers of the evening and engaged audience, many of whom were students from Gothenburg.
By Lydia Shotton, Pictures: Francis Löfvenholm